Infant feeding and the problems of policy

Lee, Ellie J. (2011) Infant feeding and the problems of policy. In: Liamputtong, Pranee, ed. Infant Feeding Practices; A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Springer-Verlag New York Inc., pp. 77-94. ISBN 978-1-4419-6872-2. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

How a mother feeds her baby is, formally, a decision for her to make. Yet, infant feeding is surrounded by conventions and precepts about appropriate maternal decisions. British women feed their babies in a policy context where no ambivalence is associated with attaching breastfeeding to important benefits for individual children, mothers, and the wider society. Social scientific research indicates that the presumptions of policy are to some extent widely shared; assessments of mothers’ attitudes to infant feeding show they mostly agree ‘breast is best’. Yet, practice departs greatly from official advice. One interpretation of this difference is that mothers are more ambivalent about the benefits of breastfeeding in practice than in the abstract. Research utilising social scientific methods has largely not concerned itself with exploring maternal ambiguity and ambivalence, as the paradigm informing most studies is a public health perspective. A small number of studies have, however, utilised social science methods to generate important insights about the tensions between policy and maternal practice and experience. This chapter summarises findings of this work indicating three major themes: breastfeeding promotion and the individualisation of social problems; ‘scientisation’ and the effacing of maternal choice; and moralisation and the problem of moral jeopardy. It concludes by indicating future possibilities for socio-cultural research about infant feeding.

Item Type: Book section
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Mita Mondal
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2013 12:41 UTC
Last Modified: 28 May 2014 12:56 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/36598 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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